OSHA Update: Ebola Safety Information

TO:                 All RCUH Principal Investigators and Employees


FROM:           RCUH Human Resources

SUBJECT:     OSHA Update: Ebola Safety Information


On October 15, 2014, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released general guidelines and information regarding occupational safety to the Ebola virus. This information is summarized below. Further OSHA information regarding Ebola can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/index.html. 


Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease in humans. The 2014 Ebola outbreak is widely considered to be the largest outbreak in history. At this time, there is not a widespread outbreak in the U.S. as it is limited to countries in West Africa. Regardless, it is important to incorporate measures to prevent any unnecessary exposure and control any potential spread of the Ebola virus.


A key factor in protection from any virus is to recognize the symptoms. Symptom recognition can assist in determining potential sources of the virus and taking steps to protect one’s self. Below is a list of signs and symptoms for the Ebola Virus. Please be mindful that symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

The transmission of Ebola does not occur through the air or by water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that transmission only occurs through direct contact with the following:

  • Blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • Infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)

Please be aware that the most common routes of transmission are as follows:

  • Contact of the eyes or other mucous membranes with blood or body fluids of a person or animal with Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF),
  • Contact with contaminated equipment or other objects; and
  • Ingestion of infectious blood or body fluids.

Certain occupations, such as lab and healthcare workers, are at a higher risk for exposure to Ebola, however, it is important to take steps to prevent exposure regardless of your occupation. Located below are a few general safety tips that can help reduce any exposure to the Ebola virus:

  • Review your project’s Bloodborne Pathogens Plan (BBP) to refresh on relative policies and procedures. Ensure that you understand all relative policies and procedures for BBP.
  • Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, face and eye protection, when coming into contact with sources of transmission.
  • After contact while wearing gloves, wash hands with soap and water and discard of gloves in properly labeled waste containers.
  • Immediately clean and disinfect any visible contamination of blood or bodily fluids from surfaces.
  • Avoid direct contact with any blood and bodily fluids, regardless of source.
  • Practice good hand hygiene protocols (hand washing/sanitizing).
  • Frequently wash your hands and wear protective masks when around people with an undiagnosed sickness.

Additional Links for Information

OSHA: Ebola Control and Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Ebola

NIOSH: Ebola Information